Individual tutor system
The main structure for trainee support is the individual tutor system.
To ensure that trainees receive coordinated support and advice on their progression throughout their training, from staff who have a chance to get to know them and their learning needs, each trainee is allocated a 'tutor team'. On the first day of induction trainees will be made aware of their allocated 'clinical tutor'. All new trainees meet with their clinical tutors during the induction period, and clinical tutors and trainees are encouraged to agree a 'psychological contract' describing the way that they will work together.
In addition to an allocated 'clinical tutor' the trainees also have a ‘research tutor’. To begin with this is a temporary research tutor. When each trainee has been assigned a service related project supervisor from within the research team, typically within six weeks of starting the programme, this supervisor will become the trainee's 'research tutor' and join with the 'clinical tutor' to act as the 'individual tutor team' typically for the first eighteen months of training. After the university closure dates at Easter, each trainee's academic thesis supervisor will become their new 'research tutor'. This can be the same individual as their service related supervisor but it does not have to be so. This individual tutor team will then work with the trainee to the end of the training programme.
Individual tutors are intended to be the main point of general contact for the trainee with the programme. They are available to provide pastoral support as well as having the delegated authority to deal with some day-to-day line management issues, such as approving annual leave requests (clinical tutors). They will also work with the trainee to develop and maintain an Individual Training Plan (ITP) (see below) throughout training. It would generally be expected that both tutors would copy the other into communication with and/or about the trainee when this concerns issues beyond routine clinical/academic/research tasks. Examples of such communication would be concerns regarding personal issues impacting on training; discussions about planned absence from the programme or revisions to a ITP. The principle here is that both tutors and the trainee are involved in decision making wherever that is appropriate and possible. Where trainees approach other members of staff to discuss specific issues that have implications for their wider training experience, these staff members will also link back to the trainee's individual tutors so that a coordinated response and plan can be agreed. Individual tutors also carry out some specific tasks in relation to the trainee. These include the following:
- Conducting all visits to the trainees at their placement (clinical tutor)
- Conducting ITP meetings with the trainee (both individual tutors if possible - see below for more detail)
- Raising issues of concern with the trainee or feeding back on discussion about the trainee which have taken place in other fora
- Conducting end of training interviews with the trainee (both individual tutors)
Individual Training Plans
The purpose of the individual training plan (ITP) is to provide an overview of all aspects of training for each trainee, and to provide appropriate guidance to allow optimum development through the three years of the programme. This system of progress review is a collaborative exercise between the trainee and their individual tutors. It is important to emphasise that the individual training plan is not a formal 'examined' evaluative procedure but, instead, allows a considered discussion of progress in all domains that relate to training. The aim is for both the trainee and tutors to communicate openly and to agree on the best way forward to meet each individual trainee's needs in the forthcoming year. Regular review is not only good practice and helpful to trainees, it also satisfies university expectations and also employer expectation for review.
The ITP process requires at least two meetings per year but meetings can be as frequent as is agreed to be useful. If possible both individual tutors should be present for all ITPs. At times, due to part-time working and scheduling difficulties, it is not possible for both tutors to attend the ITP. In such cases, the tutor who is unable to attend the ITP should still review progress with the trainee either in a face to face meeting or by telephone. It is expected that both tutors are present for at least one ITP per year.
It is anticipated that issues in training evolve through the three years. For example, trainees' goals are likely to be more exploratory ('wider') during the first year, and focus down to areas of special interest and career planning by the third year. It is the role of the tutors to help focus on appropriate goals, and strategies to meet these goals, in order to facilitate developmental progress.
It is anticipated that the trainee will make notes regarding the different areas of discussion prior to each review meeting and will bring the form to discuss at the meeting. Information in the document is then shared with the trainee's individual tutors during the meeting, and progress on development goals from any previous meetings is discussed. There is then some reflective discussion culminating in new development goals being agreed for the next training period. Following the meeting, the trainee then updates the remainder of the form based upon these discussions. At the end of training, the form containing notes for all ITP meetings is signed by trainee and tutors and submitted to the office. These are stored in a password protected drive which can be accessed by all staff.